Good. Evil. Dangerous. Glamorous. Will the real Cleopatra please stand up? Almost everything we know about the last queen of Egypt came from her enemies—the Romans. Now it's time to meet the "real" Cleopatra, a ruler more complex, brilliant, and powerful than we ever knew. Cleopatra didn't just rock the boat when she became queen at seventeen. She rocked the world with brilliant alliances that kept her in power and in control. When Mark Antony tried to put Egypt under his thumb, she negotiated for—and won—more ...
Good. Evil. Dangerous. Glamorous. Will the real Cleopatra please stand up? Almost everything we know about the last queen of Egypt came from her enemies—the Romans. Now it's time to meet the "real" Cleopatra, a ruler more complex, brilliant, and powerful than we ever knew. Cleopatra didn't just rock the boat when she became queen at seventeen. She rocked the world with brilliant alliances that kept her in power and in control. When Mark Antony tried to put Egypt under his thumb, she negotiated for—and won—more territory than any Egyptian ruler had snagged in generations. Cleopatra didn't just play by the rules. She made them up as she went along. She bowed to no one, including Octavian—the future Caesar Augustus—who never missed an opportunity to pump out anti-Cleopatra propaganda. The queen of Egypt has fascinated the world for thousands of years. It's time to find out why. So, on your knees, commoner! The world's most brilliant and outrageous queen—Cleopatra VII, the last Pharaoh of Egypt—is about to make her entrance. This Voice of Youth Advocates Nonfiction Honor List book includes maps, endnotes, timeline, glossary, sources, and index.
This nonfiction book looks at Cleopatra's life from her perspective. Based upon journals and personal letters, it has been determined that this mother of four kept the Romans from taking over Egypt for twenty years. She was smart, well read, powerful, attractive, and multilingual. She spoke Greek, Egyptian, Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew, Latin, and Persian, as well as several African dialects. Her family was depicted as a power hungry bunch of people vying for the throne. On one occasion when Cleopatra and her father, Pharaoh Ptolemy XII, were out of the country, his eldest daughter named herself Queen. Upon returning from their trip, the Pharaoh had this daughter beheaded for treason. One had to be careful in this family! Cleopatra paid attention and was named the Queen upon her father's death. Here, her personal history continues after her death, following the lives of her children. Additionally, there are details about mores and styles during this era, including the popularity of wearing wigs, types of children's toys, the common practice of brother-sister marriages, the use of the Julian Calendar, the power of Egyptian jewelry, how cosmetics were created, and mummification. The book is neatly organized with a table of contents, endnotes, a timeline, a glossary, a bibliography, picture sources, and an index. The photographs are crisp and clear. This resource is geared for young adult females. Although there are numerous fascinating facts, many of Shecter's descriptions date the material in her book. References to roller blades, frenemies, photoshopping, reality show stars, and texting become a bit overwhelming as these types of words and other similes are found on almost every page. Aside from that, social studies, geography, and history classes in middle school and high school may have a hard time keeping the book away from girls. Reviewer: Cheryl Williams Chang
- Lynn Evarts
Cleopatra has been a mystery to historians and researchers for thousands of years. What were her relationships with the great warriors of her time? To what lengths did she really go to protect her children? How did she really die? Shecter examines all of these questions about the "Queen of the Nile," plus many others. Loaded with fact boxes, photos and illustrations, and catchy chapter titles, this book covers Cleopatra's early life with her father, Pharoah Ptolemy XII, their run to Rome to save their lives, her time with Antony, and her much mythologized death. Shecter uses a light, colloquial style throughout the book to modernize ancient history for teens. This book is a good example of the great lengths writers and publishers are going to in order to create nonfiction that captures the tone and feeling of teen-speak. For example, while discussing Antony giving lands to Cleopatra, the author states, "Hello, wasn't he already married to the lovely Octavia?" While there is a great deal of information in this book, a serious researcher may be put off by the phrasing and word choice. Use this book with young people who have to read nonfiction or biography, particularly if that student is a reluctant reader in the first place. Reviewer: Lynn Evarts
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—Julius Caesar was "a player," Marc Antony a "good ol' boy." Caesar Augustus, once a "snot-nosed, knobby-kneed, pimply-faced peon," presents himself as a "stud" after defeating Antony at Actium. Cleopatra started life as a "bookish nerd." Readers are either going to love or hate the popped-up tone of this well-documented history of "the original teen queen." Shecter packs it full of irreverent metaphors ("Egyptians believed that a soul without a body was like a hotdog without a bun") and up-to-date recontextualizations (referring to the Donations of Alexandria: "Imagine the outrage if the vice president of the United States suddenly gave away parts of Alaska"). Short chapters with banner headlines every few paragraphs organize Cleopatra's action-packed life into easily processed pieces, and the slangy style may mitigate the effect of the unfamiliar proper nouns. Medium-size photographs of objects and images such as movie posters, book illustrations, and paintings proliferate, one per page. A modicum of pronunciation assistance is offered, but there is an unfortunate shortage of maps. However, sidebars with sometimes-silly factoids (games, cosmetics) help round out this view of Cleopatra's life. Respectably lengthy endnotes refer to an even-more-respectable biography—readers are pointed to Suetonius, Tacitus, and Herodotus as well as excellent modern works on the subject. Most importantly, Shecter addresses and questions preconceptions about Cleopatra that have proliferated throughout Western culture since Plutarch. Whatever one thinks of the style, the scholarship is sound: in this case, a spoonful of Pop-Rocks may help the Ptolemies go down.—Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD